New study narrows the gap between climate models and reality

July 30, 2015

A new study led by a University of York scientist addresses an important question in climate science: how accurate are climate model projections?

Climate models are used to estimate future , and their accuracy can be checked against the actual global observed so far. Most comparisons suggest that the world is warming a little more slowly than the model projections indicate. Scientists have wondered whether this difference is meaningful, or just a chance fluctuation.

Dr Kevin Cowtan, of the Department of Chemistry at York, led an international study into this question and its findings are published in Geophysical Research Letters. The research team found that the way global temperatures were calculated in the models failed to reflect real-world measurements. The use air temperature for the whole globe, whereas the real-world data used by scientists are a combination of air and readings.

Dr Cowtan said: "When comparing models with observations, you need to compare apples with apples."

The team determined the effect of this mismatch in 36 different climate models. They calculated the temperature of each model earth in the same way as in the real world. A third of the difference between the models and reality disappeared, along with all of the difference before the last decade. Any remaining differences may be explained by the recent temporary fluctuation in the rate of global warming.

Dr Cowtan added: "Recent studies suggest that the so-called 'hiatus' in warming is in part due to challenges in assembling the data. I think that the divergence between models and observations may turn out to be equally fragile."

Dr Cowtan's primary field of research is X-ray crystallography and he is based in the York Structural Biology Laboratory in the University's Department of Chemistry. His interest in climate science has developed from an interest in science communication. This is his second major paper. For this project, he led a diverse team of international researchers, including some of the world's top climate scientists.

Explore further: Warming slow-down not the end of climate change, study shows

More information: Geophysical Research Letters: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064888/abstract

Related Stories

Heat still on despite warming slowdown

April 23, 2015

The recent slowdown in the rise of global average air temperatures will make no difference to how much the planet will warm by 2100, a new study has found.

Using new data, US finds no pause in global warming

June 4, 2015

Using updated data on the Earth's surface temperatures worldwide, US government scientists have found no evidence of a pause in global warming in recent years, according to research published on Thursday.

Recommended for you

Scientists examine bacterium found 1,000 feet underground

December 8, 2016

Pioneering work being carried out in a cave in New Mexico by researchers at McMaster University and The University of Akron, Ohio, is changing the understanding of how antibiotic resistance may have emerged and how doctors ...

New studies take a second look at coral bleaching culprit

December 7, 2016

Scientists have called superoxide out as the main culprit behind coral bleaching: The idea is that as this toxin build up inside coral cells, the corals fight back by ejecting the tiny energy- and color-producing algae living ...

Cosmic dust found in city rooftop gutters

December 7, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers with Imperial College London, the Natural History Museum in London, Project Stardust in Norway and Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, has found samples of cosmic dust in the ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HannesAlfven
2 / 5 (4) Jul 30, 2015
Re: "Recent studies suggest that the so-called 'hiatus' in warming is in part due to challenges in assembling the data. I think that the divergence between models and observations may turn out to be equally fragile."

Or, the IPCC is simply ignoring the heating effect of the solar wind that UCLA researchers observed -- and which solar researchers warned them about some years ago. NASA apparently thinks so, as they have already invested $1 million into the creation of new models that take into account electrical currents traveling over the highly conductive solar wind, and entering into the poles.

Chances are that this is the cause for sudden stratospheric warming events, and even the occasional splitting of the polar vortex -- a common feature of conducting plasmas in the plasma laboratory -- but an observation which planetary scientists have no explanation for on Venus especially.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (4) Jul 30, 2015
the so-called 'hiatus' in warming is in part due to challenges in assembling the data

What a surprise, more BULL for GloBULL warming from none other than COWtan.
The satellite temperature record, which supports the hiatus, does not exist, right?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.